communications/intro/ Intro for Co-opers

Your focus

You value community and economic democracy. You may be a member of your local food co-op and/or live (or have lived) in cohousing developments. Maybe you’ve attended meetings run on consensus. You’re committed to a model of fair and sustainable development that treats workers and patrons alike with honesty and respect, and you want to see the cooperative economy prosper in as many contexts as possible.

Your problems

Relying on proprietary software

With all the complex challenges you face, you may not have the time or expertise to investigate the ethical issues behind every bit of technology you use. Many co-ops continue to use proprietary software that isn’t designed with the special needs of co-ops in mind, nor can it be freely altered to better suit those needs, and it locks you into supporting an industry that thrives on both anti-competitive and anti-cooperative actions. Wouldn’t it be great if software that met your co-op’s needs were made in a way that respected cooperative principles?

Challenges of co-op governance

Co-ops care about fair working conditions and supporting local economies. While co-op folks all want to share their ideas freely, many are unaware of the legal tools, like Creative Commons licenses that best enable such sharing. It would be great to better compile, improve, and disseminate the collective wisdom of the co-op world.

How we can help you

FLO ideals match the co-op vision, and offers the best prospect for greater support of FLO projects.

On the technology side, there is much to be gained from integrating the two communities of co-op supporters and Free Software developers. Software development co-ops may use our system to fund their development. Other co-ops may be patrons of software development and will have full access to powerful tools without compromising their ideals or giving up control of their own computing.

Similar value is gained in supporting FLO art, educational resources, and more. The results will be available to co-ops everywhere. is formally organized as a multistakeholder cooperative. We have researched many different organizational ideas and incorporated the best into our Bylaws. We use a better voting procedure called “score voting” (also known as “range voting” and not the same as rank). Range voting helps elect consensus candidates over polarized ones. As we build our own technology to run our governance, the same systems will be available to all co-ops.

How you can help us

Democracy is hard! We need people who are experienced in things like facilitation and consensus-building (or willing to learn along the way) to serve as moderators and Directors and help foster our sense of community.

If you have experience in co-op startup or governance, we would love your input! Our Bylaws have been drafted but are not yet finalized. We have yet to figure out standing rules or other details.

Spread the word to other co-ops! Part of the movement is supporting each other, and we want to build our connections within the community and help out wherever we can.